Is Steve Cohen finished with his diabolical plot to ruin Major League Baseball?

Well, maybe … at least for now. But you are advised to wait until next offseason when Cohen purchases presumptive free-agent Shohei Ohtani for a record-shattering price. If Ohtani demands $400 million, Cohen will make it $500 million … or whatever it takes.

I’m kidding about the destroying–MLB part. Cohen is awesome. I appreciate how this owner of the New York Mets is making the other 29 MLB ownership groups squirm and growl and turn red in the face with exasperation and frustration.

In Cohen’s latest move, an overnight shocker – Cohen negotiated a deal to bring free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa to the Mets for a contract that will pay $315 million over 12 years.

Hang on … whaddya mean that Correa is a Met? Didn’t he agree to terms on a 13-year, $350 million with the San Francisco Giants last week? Didn’t the Giants schedule a Tuesday news conference to announce the Correa signing?

Why, yes. But the Giants were concerned about something medical when Correa took his mandatory physical examination, and the press conference was called off until the team and agent Scott Boras could figure something out and settle the matter. Fail. Boras later characterized the medical issue as a “difference of opinion.”

After the Giants backed away, Boras went straight to Cohen. He called Cohen’s mobile phone number and completed a quick-hit negotiation that made Correa a Met. According to the New York Post, which broke the story on the Correa turnabout, Cohen made the deal while leisuring in Hawaii. After losing out to the Giants for Correa during his first at-bat, Cohen wasn’t about to strike out again.

“We needed one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told the New York Post. “This was important. This puts us over the top. This is a good team. I hope it’s a good team!”

Cohen added: “This really makes a big difference. I felt like our pitching was in good shape. We needed one more hitter. This puts us over the top.”

Cohen has a personal worth of $13 billion. He can do what he wants. This is his money, and the Mets are his team. He’s been a Mets super-fan since childhood, made a massive fortune as a hedge-fund manager, and bought the franchise for $2.4 billion a little more than two years ago.

Cohen is buying … and buying … and buying. After collecting coveted and famous pieces of art the way kids collect baseball cards, Cohen has set his sights on collecting National League pennants and World Series trophies.

And to think that the other MLB owners tried a preemptive strike against Cohen during last year’s collective bargaining agreement with the players association. Fearful of Cohen raising his payroll to unprecedented and outrageous (to them) levels,

The owners negotiated a fourth tier of payroll-tax penalties into the new CBA – otherwise known as “The Cohen Tax.”

What does this mean for Cohen and the Mets’ payroll? Before the “Cohen Tax” is applied, the Mets have a 40-man payroll of $384.3 million. Now add the penalties – $111.577 million – and the Mets are spending a total of nearly $496 million for 2023. Until now, no team in baseball had ever had a payroll top $350 million.

This offseason the Mets have committed $800 million to free agents including starting pitcher Justin Verlander, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, closer Edwin Diaz, reliever starting pitcher Kodai Senga, starting pitcher Jose Quintana and now Correa.

That’s a lot of dough.

“What the heck’s the difference? If you’re going to make the move, make the move,” Cohen told the New York Post.

The Cohen Tax did not subdue Cohen. When details of Stop-Cohen Tax came out, Cohen wasn’t upset. Hde was flattered. “It’s better than a bridge being named after you,” he said at the time.

Why get mad when you can ignore the tax and keep spending to your heart’s content in the ideal way to gain revenge on the other owners? More than that, Cohen wants to win, and money isn’t a factor. The New York kid that grew up loving the Mets has the right to act like an excitable kid (at age 66) by paying for the toy of his dreams … with no restraint whatsoever.

First: sign Max Scherzer last spring to a three-year deal worth $130 million. Need a closer? Bring back your own closer, Diaz, for $100 million. Lose starting pitcher Jacob deGrom to Texas as a free agent? No problem; just sign AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander to a two-year pact for $86.7 million contract. Cohen didn’t allow Nimmo to walk as a free agent and gave him eight years and $162 million to stay.

Starting pitchers Tajuan Walker and Chris Bassitt left the Mets rotation for free-agent deals elsewhere, so Cohen’s front office signed Senga out of Japan for five years and $75 million and lured the former Cardinal (Quintana) on a two-year deal for $26 million. The bullpen was reinforced by the signings of setup relievers David Robertson and Adam Ottavino. The Mets wanted to boost their catcher position and add a lefty bat and achieved both things by signing underrated free-agent catcher Omar Narvaez.

That wasn’t enough.

Cohen was concerned about the Mets’ offense …

Hello, Carlos Correa.

“We talked about putting the best team we could on the field and let winning drive the decisions we were gonna make,” Mets GM Billy Eppler told reporters. “With some of the conversations we had, the future does come up and it comes up a lot. But in the here and now, being able to put a club together we feel really good about was important. That was the prevailing conversation.”

Isn’t that what every fan of every team wants to hear and see? Let’s say it again: MLB teams have all the money that they need – and then some – to make an aggressive attempt to build a team capable of postseason success. Cohen isn’t the bad guy. He just wants his favorite team – which he owns – to win championships.

Cohen may fail, yes. And people will laugh. But that won’t make him look bad. The owners who look bad are the small-market cheaters who cry crocodile tears, collect annual payments from wealthier teams and make little effort to win. And then there are the prestigious franchises that prosper with a huge revenue flow but limit payroll just because they want to … not because they have to. I believe one of those teams lives nearby, in the 314.

The Cardinals can and probably will win the NL Central again. Good for them. They control the small or medium sized pond! But the industry has changed, and winning the division isn’t as valuable as before. That’s because of the expanded playoff format. In the National League, the Cardinals are really competing against the Mets, Braves, Phillies, Dodgers, Padres. A jumbo-sized payroll doesn’t guarantee anything, but the price of talent is going up … and up. And a true commitment to winning has become more expensive. I can’t hate on Steve Cohen for his genuine, passionate desire to win.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.